Life Lessons from a Labrador Retriever

There she goes.


She ran out the back door the moment I opened it and plotted her course straight towards the huge tree in the corner. The squirrels are chattering at her from high above, the animal version of a snarky retort.

I whistle in an attempt to bring her back from her wild dog fantasy, but it’s no use. Once she’s focused on a squirrel she won’t give up until it hops onto the fence and heads for the neighbor’s yard.

One small victory in the effervescent life of a Labrador retriever.

I give up and watch her run gracefully up and down the fence line as the squirrel plays the daily game of catch-me-if-you-can. Deep in her gene pool lies the stuff of great hunting dogs, according to the breeder. When she runs and leaps around the yard you can see tiny glimpses of the dog she was born to be.

But fate placed her here, in this suburban home with 2.0 kids and not a hunter to be found. Her keen retrieving instincts are directed towards the spit-stained stuffed animals that inhabit her toy basket. She sleeps on my daughter’s bed and spends countless hours curled up under my desk.

Not quite a dog’s life — more like the life of a princess, my husband claims.

When she was younger, she was injured while running up and down the fence chasing a nighttime critter — either a possum or a raccoon. Her leg swelled up and it was difficult for her to move around. After vet visits, ultrasound treatments, medications and as much “rest” as one can force on a lab she was healed and life moved on. She continued to chase the squirrels and play seemingly endless rounds of fetch with a tennis ball.

But then when she was 3 years old it happened again. She was sitting in front of me as I sat on the steps tying my shoelaces. I motioned for her to back up and she did. The cry of pain was horrible and her leg was sticking straight out to the side, in a direction back legs weren’t built to go.

And it was the other leg.

So after a trip to the emergency vet, CT scans and consultations with the surgeon it was determined that Holli has an uncommon, chronic problem with both Achilles tendons in her back legs. Because the surgery and recovery is very difficult, we decided to wait it out. We carried her home, nursed her back to health and decided to try and limit her running and activity in order to avoid surgery for as long as possible. No more endless rounds of fetch in the backyard or running around with the big dogs at the dog park. She was destined to be the canine model for a couch potato.

And yet, she runs.

She runs because she doesn’t know that she can’t. The consequences of running the fence line in hot pursuit of a squirrel mean nothing to her. She lets her inner hunting dog loose and runs with grace and agility.

I swear she’s even smiling.

She runs because she can, because she doesn’t understand my long-winded explanations about why I called her back into the house. Because to her, running feels like something she is compelled to do, something she can’t stop doing. And she isn’t afraid of the consequences.

She runs.

Why don’t we?

We all have something we wish we could do, or maybe even feel that we were born to do. And yet, how often do we throw up our arms and say, “WTH? I’m going to do it!”

Has someone told you that you can’t? Is your inner critic whispering “You’ll fail” in your ear, ever so quietly while you daydream?

This is how I feel about writing, most days.

That I am driven to do it and really need to get those words out, but that time and work and my inner critic all get in the way.

That I need to write like nobody is reading.

That I need to take one more run at that squirrel on the fence.

And not worry about the chatter.

Help End Medicine Abuse

The Medicine Abuse Project


An ugly word that conjures images of a messy drunk passed out in the alley behind the bar, or possibly a young person so completely caught in the grasp of methamphetamine abuse that she can’t remember a life before.

But there is another side to the horrible face of addiction, and it’s no farther away than your bathroom medicine cabinet.

Medicine abuse is often overlooked, tucked away and ignored… because after all, someone NEEDED these medicines in the first place, right? What you don’t always realize is that the abuse of prescription (Rx) and over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines is dangerous and deadly.

When we talk to our children and teens about drugs and alcohol, we need to talk to them about medicine abuse as well. But are we really doing enough?

This is where The Partnership at comes in. I am honored to have been chosen for a special live-streaming event to kick off a blog tour featuring 12 writers each reading a personal essay about substance use/abuse and what we want our children to know.

I hope you will join me on Tuesday night September 10 to help #EndMedicineAbuse with The Partnership at and LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.

You can watch the live-streaming event September 10 starting at 9 pm EST at the link below:

Then, on September 12 these writers will share their essays on their own blogs.

We hope you will join us in the fight to #EndMedicineAbuse.


Creative Alliance: The Scoop

Creative Alliance? Didn’t she attend at the end of September?

She hasn’t posted about it yet?

Um, no.

How do you sum up an experience like Creative Alliance? Or CA12, as the cool kids were calling it.

Not quite a conference, more comfy-cozy-retreatish I suppose. The first Creative Alliance was in 2010 and the participants came away in awe of the vibe they had created and the intenslly personal experience it was. They hoped to recreate it this year, but you just never know with these things.

But what they created for forty-five women in the quirky little town of Ojai, California goes beyond words.

I hadn’t planned on attending until the lovely (and persuasive) Nichole talked me into it. There may have been a promise of wine involved.

I just wasn’t sure I had the time or energy or interest to attend another conference.

I was so wrong.

I usually come home from conferences drained…too much learning, networking, staying up way too late, and feeling overwhelmed by what I am not doing/should be doing/can’t possibly do that I don’t even want to write. At all.

I came home from Creative Alliance so energized, I couldn’t wait to get going again.

We had casual sessions under a big tent in comfy beach chairs, these incredibly talented women who all posess more talent in their pedicured pinky toe than I can ever hope to have.

But even though several of these players in the creative world seem larger than life? They weren’t.

We were all equals.

We all have dreams and goals and worries. We all have stupid questions and burning desires and fears.

Somehow we all just rallied with ideas and support and challenges for each other.

My take-aways?

I met the incredibly inspiring Heather and Ellie, listened to them share painfully personal stories and dreams and remembered to cherish the friends I hold dear to me. Time is not a given and we don’t always have as much time left as we think.

I stood up and read humor in front of 44 talented women and worried that they wouldn’t laugh. They did. In the right places. (whew)

I had the chance to meet and chat with the incredible Ann Imig, the mastermind behind the Listen to Your Mother series I was blessed to have participated in last May. She is even more stunning in person than on Twitter. Seriously.

I met more than a handful of women of a certain age that fall closer to my demographic than most of the writers and bloggers I have met. Molly, Jane, Florinda, Darryle, Lisa, Karen and the others made me feel connected, not old. I was practically giddy to learn that life as a blogger/writer doesn’t end at 50 45.

I met the gracious and down-to-earth Deb, who is even lovelier as a person than her gorgeous headshot on Twitter. Really, she is.

I talked for hours on end to my incredible roomies Laura, Nichole and Rachel…and it still wasn’t enough.

I have some new ideas I would never have considered just a month ago.

Thank you to Leanne and Andrea from the bottom of my heart. You ladies are awesome…Creative Alliance was incredible.